cover image The Second Mouse

The Second Mouse

Archer Mayor. Mysterious Press, $24.99 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-072-9

The death of Michelle Fisher strikes Joe Gunther as a little unusual in Mayor's superb 17th novel to feature the Vermont Bureau of Investigation detective (after 2005's St. Alban's Fire). When Joe calls for her autopsy results, he stumbles on a political snarl that threatens both his investigation and his relationship with chief medical examiner Beverly Hillstrom. Meanwhile, small-time criminal Mel Martin is intent on becoming a big-time criminal with the help of his wife, Nancy, and their friend Ellis Robbinson; for their part, Ellis and Nancy are increasingly disenchanted with Mel and enchanted by each other. Spinning out parallel story-lines and then weaving the strands together with deft precision, Mayor crafts not one but several mysteries and gives nothing away until the very last moment. While there's clearly a lot of history-most notably the recent end of Joe's 20-year romance with politician Gail Zigman, frequently mentioned despite its near-irrelevance to this particular plot-it's entirely accessible to new readers.